Bird has found a solution to the problem of scooters circulating on sidewalks: block them

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The explosion of personal mobility vehicles has caused an increase in stress when walking on the sidewalks. Scooters, segways, unicycles and even the bicycles have emerged through a space that is exclusive for the pedestrian and in which he is punished with a circular fine for him. birdhas designed a technology to curb these behaviors.

The micromobility company, which has shared-use scooters available in cities such as Madrid, Zaragoza or Malaga, among other cities, has presented an interesting technology that we have already been able to see in operation and that they hope to apply very soon to their own scooters: Smart Sidewalk Protection.

The operation is very simple, the scooter monitors the path of the passenger on board and detects when you leave a bike lane or the road and enters the pavement or drives through a pedestrian zone. In a matter of a few seconds, the scooter deactivates the accelerator, brakes gently and prevents you from continuing to circulate through this space. If it is returned to a place enabled for its circulation (roadway or bike lane) the scooter works again.

To achieve this, the scooter uses the GPS positioning and city maps stored in the vehicle’s own memory. Thus, it is able to detect very quickly (in the tests it stopped accelerating in just two or three seconds) when the passenger jumps onto the sidewalk. To apply the technology it is necessary to make an exhaustive mapping of the area where the scooter can circulate. By taking data from different providers, clear boundaries are established for its use, which determines where the scooter can and cannot move.

In addition, the same procedure that is applied on the sidewalk can be implemented to prohibit a scooter circulate in the opposite direction or in roads limited to 50 km/h. “It’s all about applying more and more layers to the map. Once you’ve got the street data, it’s very easy,” Bird technicians told us.

question of maturity

During the demonstrations, in Madrid’s Alcalá street, the scenes in which scooters and cyclists moved along the sidewalks were repeated, which gave rise to an interesting talk with Marta Alonso, general director of traffic management and surveillance of the Madrid City Council. Madrid, María Dolores Ortiz, General Director of Planning and Mobility Infrastructures, Susana Gómez, Deputy Deputy Director of Vehicles of the General Directorate of Traffic and Teófilo de Luis, President of the Alliance for Road Safety.

During it, the need to create a safe infrastructure for personal mobility vehicles was put on the table because, in the words of Javier Aparicio, Head of Government Relations and Communication of Bird for Spain, if a cyclist or a user of a vehicle of personal mobility goes on the sidewalk “it’s because don’t feel safe on the road.”

Personally, I share some of that statement, although not all of it. I am closer to the position of Teófilo de Luis, who demanded greater awareness campaigns for the DGT and those responsible for the Madrid City Council. “In a few meters I have seen a scooter that was circulating on the sidewalk and another on the Paseo de Recoletos (one of the streets with the highest volume of traffic in Madrid) on which two boys were riding.”

In this regard, Javier Aparicio pointed to a increasing user maturity over time. Asked about a possible abandonment of the platform in case of applying this system by another company with less restrictive services, Aparicio pointed out that they trust their clients. “We already prevented parking our scooters outside the spaces enabled by the City Council and we have not detected an abandonment on the platform for it.” He assures that everything is a matter of maturity and that by offering the necessary resources, the user ends up improving the use of the vehicle.

closely watched

It is not surprising that Bird’s technology has aroused the interest of the DGT or the Madrid City Council. The truth is that personal mobility vehicles have become in a very short time an interesting non-polluting alternative to move around cities. But also in a problem for some cities that were not prepared for it.

To regulate them, the DGT has published the New Manual of Technical Characteristics of Personal Mobility Vehicles. This document specifies the requirements that scooters and other vehicles will have to meet in order to circulate and be sold in our country.

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The data indicates that in Spain there are around a million scooters, which has caused a significant increase in accidents, injuries and deaths. In 2020, eight people died in accidents involving a scooter, 97 injured people were hospitalized, and another 1,097 people were injured, although they did not require hospitalization.

In fact, the DGT has already pointed out that insurance will be necessary to circulate with an electric scooter, in addition to having a certificate in sight from 2024, which will validate that the scooter cannot circulate at more than 25 km/h or that has anti-handling systems or a brake light, among other requirements.

The explosion of personal mobility vehicles has caused an increase in stress when walking on the sidewalks. Scooters, segways, unicycles…

The explosion of personal mobility vehicles has caused an increase in stress when walking on the sidewalks. Scooters, segways, unicycles…

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